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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Saturday, 11 November 2006
Fine print

Higher still up the pecking order is the publisher ; the one who writes the cheques and has an override status as to what does and doesn't see the light of day. They are the ones who cop the flak if there is controversy so it does seem reasonable that they step in at times. It's not that a publisher should engage in regular editorial interference though sometimes it's hard to tell with the interchangeability of editor-in-chief and president, just who holds the reins of power anyway.

The main difference with publishers of books, magazines, and newspapers is that the publisher is not always identical to the comic book company.

Comics publishers would seem to be at one further remove from the actual business of producing the stories that go in them but, apart from the self-publishers, there have been instances of writers and artists who took on the role of publisher.

So how is the publisher's role prescribed then? It depends on whether the publisher selects a creative team and editorial staff to come up with characters to fit the market or has an idea of the kind of characters and stories they want to publish and then signs people on to bring them to life. There are many variables in the world of publishing, with arrangements that range from profit sharing to work-for-hire, and this bears only so much regard for who created what. Take the case of E.Levy, sparing in his own name details, the name of his company, and the details of the creative team who helped assemble the book, his efforts on Yellowjacket Comics reveal the tenor of the times. While only lasting ten issues under that title, the series nonetheless appeared canny enough in its direction. Edgar Allan Poe is a natural to adapt into comic book format and the introduction of the Old Witch as narrator is truly innovative and was taken up to great effect in the EC horror titles and the black-and-white Warren magazines that followed.

 The title character also 'had legs'. Being a staunch user and advocate of bee products, I could personally identify with a character who could command bees and was immune to their stings and, generally, both his name and insect-controlling powers have been copied since. The short-lived nature of the series may be put down to the fact that sending a swarm of bees against the stock villains of the day - the mad professor, the crime boss, the gangster - had only so much in the way of rivetting storytelling. While there have been detectives and reporters masquerading as superheroes, I know of no other crime fiction writer combining their research with physical crime-fighting. Not that that means it's a bad idea. It was probably a series of its time;  the Golden Age goofiness of having a character called Yellowjacket, a kind of wasp, controlling bees.

Or maybe the readership were distracted by world events..

 


Posted by berko_wills at 6:50 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006 7:32 PM EADT
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